Cleaning the gutters isn’t exactly a fun chore, to say the least. But it’s one of the few essential chores you have to take care of from time to time. The gutters help direct water flow away from your home and prevent moisture damage and leaks. On occasion, the gutters can get clogged or lose their integrity, causing water to damage your walls, roof, and basement. Many homeowners don’t know how to effectively deal with gutter clogs, as they don’t apply proper cleaning methods, nor do they maintain the gutters.
If you find that your gutters aren’t functioning properly and have sprung a leak, it’s important that you don’t make the same mistakes. To properly clean your gutters, you have to know the root of the issue and how you can mitigate the factors that cause debris to pile up. Here are a few tips and tricks to help speed up this process.
What causes gutter problems?
Any gutter will constantly be exposed to debris like leaves and sticks from surrounding trees. Even with few trees around, the wind will carry enough dust and leaves to constantly barrage the gutters of your home. With this in mind, it’s a wonder that gutters don’t clog on a daily basis in most seasons.
It really gets difficult around autumn, as the leaves start falling in massive amounts. At some point, the debris forms a clog and get caught up in the gutters. This leads to flooding on the roof and problems with water drainage in your backyard. It’s something that needs to be resolved quickly, as clogs start doing damage as soon as they’re formed. You can get a clog or damaged gutter in other seasons as well, which is why it helps to stay vigilant.
The increased number of fallen leaves during certain seasons should prompt you to check on your gutters more often. It’s going to be a hassle, but that shouldn’t stop you, as the resulting issues are more of a nuisance.
Know the signs of trouble
While clogged gutters seem like an issue that is easily noticeable, this isn’t always the case. You don’t always see a bunch of leaves stacked on top of the gutter. Sometimes, a clog or rupture is small and doesn’t look conspicuous at all. You’ll only notice that the gutter is clogged after the consequences have manifested. Even then, the issue can be hard to pinpoint if you aren’t used to these kinds of situations.
Clogged and dysfunctional gutters have a few symptoms that are characteristic of this kind of problem. The roof can show signs of leaking, primarily in your attic. Seeing dark spots on the walls to the side can alert you to excess moisture in the room. With gutters failing to drain the water, it eventually seeps through the roof and causes damage to the attic. You will easily recognize subtle leaks, as they will lead to mould build-up.
The basement can also show signs of improper water drainage. If moisture or flooding occurs, the gutters might not be draining water away from walls. Allowing this issue to persist will only cause further damage. Start recognizing the signs of gutter failure and make sure you act swiftly.
Find services that can help
Cleaning gutters isn’t exactly back-breaking work, but it’s not a walk in the park either. You have to make use of your ladder and a bunch of tools to try and get rid of the clog plaguing your home. Depending on the height of your home, this can be legitimately dangerous work. If you aren’t too sure in the stability of your ladder or you don’t have any tools at your disposal, there’s nothing wrong with getting help for the task.
The good news is that there are services out there that will clean your gutters, for a price. The job will be done by a professional that knows what they’re doing, which means there’s a better chance of the gutters staying clear for a while. Plus, they’ll bring their own tools, which are likely optimized for the job.
When you don’t have the time or the patience to go around cleaning every gutter and have to direct your attention elsewhere, these services can feel like a godsend. The price depends on a couple of factors, including the height and distance of your home. There’s no shortage of these services, so you can count having this problem solved whenever you deem necessary.
Clean the gutters yourself
Once you’ve determined that the gutters are indeed clogged, you can start cleaning them up yourself if you’re so inclined. The job isn’t too difficult, but you’ll definitely need to put in a bit of work and dedication.
Start with obtaining a sturdy ladder that is sure to support the weight of you and your tools. This is one thing that you should definitely make your priority. Make sure that you can stay well-balanced on the ladder while you’re cleaning the gutters. Whatever tools you use should be strapped to you, to minimize the chances of one falling and injuring someone. Gloves are a necessity for work on gutters, as leaves and broken branches tend to be sharp. You don’t want to get your hands cut up by stray debris, as they might contain harmful bacteria and cause an infection. Staying safe is an important part of cleaning gutters properly.
Take care of pests
Gutter clogs and damage prevent water from going into various part of the gutter system. The empty areas of the gutters and downspouts can become very attractive for a wide variety of pests. Carpenter ants and rats are particularly fond of gutter spaces while they’re clogged.
They take advantage of the dry condition and shelter to establish themselves near your home. Because the gutters are located right by the roof, these pests can invade your home through cracks in the shingles and cause an infestation. They will also cause further damage to the gutter system, exacerbating the problem.
Before you can start repairing the damage and clearing the clog, you have to take care of the pests. It would be wise to call in an exterminator to remove the pests for you, as you don’t want to be exposed to potential germs and disease. A professional will be better able to handle an infestation, and they can guarantee that it won’t return any time soon. Once the issue has been taken care of, you can then move on to gutter repairs.
Use the right tools for the job
There are lots of different tools you can use to clean your gutters. While stray debris can be simply picked up and thrown out of the gutters, this isn’t always optimally effective. If you don’t have gloves or any specialized tools, picking up these potentially sharp objects might not be a good idea.
The good news is that there are lots of ways to clean your gutters that don’t involve directly picking things up with your hands. Some people use special leaf blowers to disperse the debris. It’s also possible to use a jet of water from a high pressure washer to clear out a clog. To clean this way, you only need to add an attachment over a simple garden hose. This way, you avoid contact and potentially ending up with a cut or scrape from clearing out the gutters.
If the gutter needs to be repaired, you have to get the right screws, screwdrivers, and metal plates to fix it. If the gutter is significantly damaged, repairs might not be feasible or worth the trouble. It would be better to replace the gutters outright instead.
Eliminate ice dams
Leaves and twigs aren’t the only potential culprits for gutter clogs. Ice and snow can accumulate on your gutters during the winter, causing ice dams. Taking care of ice on your gutters is a bit more difficult than clearing leaves. The ice is stuck to the gutters and it prevents snow runoff, further increasing the blockage.
To clear it up, you’ll need to break the ice. A hammer might come in handy for this job. If you’re worried about damaging the gutters, using calcium chloride ice melts is a viable alternative. Clear the snow above the dam with a rake and apply the ice melt to the dam. It will slowly clear up the blockage and allow water and snow to flow freely.
Move any plants or branches that might be overhead as you apply the calcium chloride. The water-saturated with the ice melt can drip and cause damage if it lands on greenery.
Prevent future issues
Once you’ve taken care of the clog or structural damage, you want to make sure that it doesn’t happen again any time soon. While you can’t influence the seasons or prevent leaves and branches from falling on your gutters, you can protect the gutters themselves.
Many homeowners use gutter covers and meshes to minimize the chance of debris causing a clog. If you install a gutter cover, make sure you maintain it semi-regularly so that it doesn’t succumb to a clog itself. With the right kind of cover, cleaning the gutters will become a much easier task.
The gutters play a vital role in protecting your house from the elements. All throughout the year, your gutters are exposed to lots of wind and rain, which brings with itself a lot of debris that can clog the gutters. Should this happen, your home can be damaged by floods and leaks. This is why it’s so important to maintain the cleanliness of your home’s gutters. Avoiding damage and clogs completely isn’t realistic, but you can minimize the risk of them occurring.
If the gutters are in bad shape, hire professionals to clean and repair them for you. Then, you can proceed to clean and maintain them throughout the seasons, while applying for adequate protection. It’s annoying work, but it’s also a normal part of every chore schedule. Decide how you’ll resolve the issue and then apply proper methods to clear up the gutters.